Last year Amy reached out to me via Instagram regarding her Just Me Project. This project was definitely one of the stepping stones that helped me get to where I am now. At the time of our photoshoot last October I was still having sessions with Molly from KCSARC whom I’ve been seeing since January 2017.
Come October I was much more open and accepting of myself. Aside from Molly, Amy was the first person outside of my close circle of friends whom I shared my story with and on camera no less! Amy has the sweetest deposition and made me feel totally comfortable and like an intricate part of her project; which I knew from the moment she contacted me it would be life changing not only for me but for many other women as well. Here is what Amy had to say about her Just Me Project:
“This is so much more than just taking “pretty pictures”. Some women have changed the way they walk about the Earth because of the “Just Me” experience, and I never expected these sessions to have this impact. It’s become a sort of therapy to empower women, to let her know she is enough, she is worthy, and she is beautiful even if society says she needs to be different.
In my adult years, I’ve never felt beautiful without some sort of makeup on— I at least want to finish my eyebrows before going out in public. I know I’m not alone. One day, early December 2016, I was alone in my studio. I had on my favorite, oversized shirt, had not put makeup on that day, and was contemplating curling my hair in the down time to give myself a confidence boost. Instead, I set up a backdrop, put my camera on a tripod, and used the timer to take some selfies for social media. Expecting to dislike 99% of the photos, I was instead captivated by these images that showcased my everyday, natural self. I recognized her. I wasn’t hiding. I started offering this type of session to friends, and eventually set the goal of photographing 100 women by the end of 2017. Because I lost count somewhere along the way, I ended up with 104 women signing up on a first come, first served basis. The gallery event was created because I was asked over and over again, “what are you doing with these?” This seemed like the most natural way to celebrate the community I’ve built, and I hope to find a more long-term home so these photographs and stories can empower women exponentially. The event celebrated the community made from the 100+ women who participated, and brought emotions and stories to light that will have a long term effect. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the photo sessions, project, and the event.
I’m invigorated going to these sessions with a bare face and an open heart. If my client is not allowed to wear makeup or style her hair, I am meeting her where she’s at. Our time together is vulnerable, raw, and takes a lot of trust. I’ve learned my superpower is making a woman feel comfortable, and I am proud of that. I want each woman to feel comfortable in my presence, comfortable in her own skin, and comfortable celebrating her strengths and talking about her struggles without fear or worry of judgement. I can do this every day for the rest of my life and be fulfilled.”
Fast forward to the day of the gallery event showing in downtown Seattle; my heart was blown away. Wall to wall black and white photos of women just being themselves. No fancy accessories, hair or makeup; just women being captured in the essence of their natural beauty. I was truly honored to be among them.
Underneath each enlarged portrait was a quote or little blurb from the woman who was frozen in that moment of her true-self. Reading their words about life and what they love about themselves was inspiring and encouraging. This is what I said:
I like that I’m a strong person. And I’m not trying to brag or anything, I’ve not had the most easy life so I like the fact about myself that I don’t give up and that I’m stronger on the inside than I used to be. I am learning to keep going, and I’m learning my self-worth all over again, and I’m okay with who I am today. All the pieces of the universe that make me ME, I am learning to love. And that voice that used to be in my head, that “you’re not good enough, you’re not pretty enough, you’re not skinny enough, you’re not enough”—that voice is finally starting to shut up and go away. I know sometimes I still have off days. But you know what? I just take three deep breaths and say, “I’m okay with who I am today.”
I cannot reiterate enough how this project changed my life and the lives of many other women. I consider Amy’s Studio a safe space, literally and metaphorically. Self-love and self-acceptance is an amazing gift and Amy’s talent helps us to unwrap it.
You can reach Amy via her site: www.amycatherinephoto.com